The Montgomery County Council voted yesterday to give the county executive, member of the council, and the state's attorney elected in the November county elections sizable raises in salary.
As approved by the council, council members would find their paychecks increased from their current annual salary of $20,850 to $26,000. The council president, who currently earns $23,350 a year, will be paid $28,500 under the new pay scale.
The county executive's salary of $45,174 a year will be increased to $50,000, while the state's attorney who now is paid $38,852, will earn $47,500 annually.
The package approved by the seven-membered council includes a cost-of-living provision for elected official's salaries. Under that provision, salaries would be increased each year by three-quarters of the percentage increase in the consumer price index for the preceding year.
The five council members who voted in favor of the raise said it was needed because of the long hours a member must put in on the job.
"I estimated 115 hours of work during the budget review," said Councilman Dickran Hovsepian, who announced several months ago that he would not run for reelection because of the council's demanding schedule.
Two council members - Council President Elizabeth Scull and Jane Ann Moore, both of whom are running for reelection - cast votes against the increases. Scull said the old salaries insured that "nobody takes this job unless they (are) truly dedicated." Moore said she was concerned that an increase in council member salaries will result in increased pressure from county employes for larger raises.
Because of the potential political significance of the vote in view of the upcoming elections, at least one council member who voted in favor of the raise was especially sensitive to the comments of those who did not.
To vote against the raises, commented Esther Gelman, was "selfish. It (the current salary) has always limited the council to whites, retires, housewives, widows and heiresses."
Council President Scull, who said that she receives an income from her late husband's real estate business and from some property given to her by her father, said her financial independence has caused her problems with the council in the past.
"That's why no one takes me seriously when I say I feel this way," she said with a sigh.
Scull said she was given her cost-of-living increases over the last four years to the United Way charity. Asked if, since she voted against the new raise, she would give it up if reelected, she said, "I hadn't thought about that . . . I will seriously consider it."
Asked the same question, council member Moore responded, "I haven't thought about it. The important thing between now and then is the campaign."